Last month I had the possibility to go visit my family, it was one of my best trips up there ever, especially since I thought it wouldn’t be possible until maybe next year. My mum and I did a roadtrip up to Tornedalen where my family comes from. We’re a minority and have been ashamed of our heritage for decades. I never learned the language for example. My dad got slapped at school by his teachers for not speaking Swedish. Last month was the first time I saw the town/village signs written in both Swedish and Meänkieli (the language which they speak up there). Because of being forced to speak Swedish, my relatives have a pretty poor vocabulary and that includes me. A conversation where I come from can sound like this: “So?” “So!” “So”. Could translate to “What’s going on?” “Not much” “OK” or one thousand other things. Growing up in Luleå – I was the trash from Tornedalen, mostly in my own head because that’s what I had always heard from the relatives – I don’t think the other kids saw it that way. Back in the days racial biology was allowed and measuring the heads of tornedalingar was a thing.
There are so many amazing and really popular novels coming out in Sweden since a couple of years, taking up this subject, teaching the southerners about our culture. I believe some of them will be translated to English as they are great reads in general.
We rode through Limingoån and I saw the empty land of what used to be Adolf’s house. We went to a waterfall I hadn’t seen since 1988, it’s called The bridal veil, I can imagine many people having their wedding pictures there. Mum (100% tornedaling) and I (approx 90% tornedaling, the other 10% are Belgian) took these pictures, me looking all happy with my oversized coat (don’t know what happened to my teeth, they aren’t brown irl) and her acting Wrist Worms model.
This was the first time we did something like this together; riding miles and miles, laughing in the car, taking silly pictures, having fika in Överkalix, eating pizza in Korpilombolo, visiting my aunt, walking into abandoned buildings cause the doors were unlocked, screaming Watch out for the reindeer when it was a plastic bag (which is a warning from the sami people that there might be reindeer crossing the streets). Talking about minority, the sami people had it even worse than tornedalingar.
I sometimes wonder if it was the shame of where I come from that drove me away from Sweden. I don’t think so, but maybe there’s a tiny bit of truth in there. My longing for something bigger has always been there; I mean bigger when it comes to the size of the city. That’s it for now, do you want to see some more pictures from our roadtrip? x